With many states experiencing a rise in Covid-19 cases, medical masks are seeing their demand rise to even higher levels than before. However, many of those working in hospitals and other healthcare facilities are concerned that these crucial masks will not be readily available due to a shortage in key materials.
The issues facing mask manufacturing facilities are similar to those seen when the Covid-19 pandemic began taking off in the U.S. back in March, as suddenly many states need equipment such as masks, gloves, and ventilators once again in large numbers. However, even with emergency measures taken, there are concerns over if there will be enough manufacturing to meet this new demand.
In particular, the main worry is over having enough meltblown textiles. Meltblowing is the process that turns plastics into a hard mesh. It’s this component which makes masks, especially the N95 masks, effective at blocking out small particles like viruses. Meltblown textiles are also used in a wide range of products, from baby diapers to air conditioners.
The issue is that many manufactures are concerned about investing in meltblowing textiles for what may be a short-term project. Companies would need to procure new machinery, raw materials, employees, and factory space, which can quickly cost them millions. While some companies have taken this risk, others are concerned about being left in a financial hole when demand returns to normal.
Mainly, these manufactures want assurances from the government that they will continue to buy their meltblown textiles even when the demand lowers. That way, they can continue to maintain a profit and not have their investment go to waste. The issue is that the government is not keen on making this type of agreement. The official stance from those at the White House has been that medical professionals already have the gear that they need, so any progress on this sort of deal would be difficult to make.